HOLLY HILL, Fla. – Acclaimed artist and marine scientist Dr. Guy Harvey will host a fundraising event at the exclusive MG on the Halifax in the Daytona Beach area on June 2, 2012, to kick off “Save the Sawfish,” an international campaign by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Florida Museum of Natural History aimed at preserving the magnificent creature threatened with extinction.
To launch the effort Dr. Harvey will unveil an original painting of the endangered species, “Stirring up Trouble,” for the event’s live auction. Proceeds benefit sawfish research conducted by George Burgess, who is widely known for his pioneering work as director of the Florida Program for Shark Research.
Go to www.savethesawfish.com to join the effort and register to attend the benefit from 6-10 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at MG on the Halifax in the Daytona Beach area. The Save the Sawfish website also includes other opportunities to donate.
“There’s more reason now than ever to find out how many sawfish are left, what they do and how they fill their niche – and more importantly, to conserve them,” Dr. Guy Harvey says. “There’s nothing else like this animal in our marine ecosystem, yet they are very few and far between. This is an adventurous effort.”
Sawfish get their name from their “saws” – long, flat snouts edged with pairs of teeth. Similar to sharks in appearance, sawfish actually are bottom-dwelling rays that can grow to more than 20 feet long. Once common in the Atlantic and the Gulf, only a few survive today. As one of the most threatened species of marine life, it was the first U.S. marine fish to be listed as endangered by the federal government in 2003.
“At the MG, we are honored to partner with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Florida Program for Shark Research. It is our responsibility as riverfront stakeholders and marina owners to create consciousness about the importance of preserving marine life,” says Brett Dill, president of the MG on the Halifax ownership group. “A healthy, diverse ecosystem is vital for our quality of life in so many ways. We all win.”
The venue site is the exclusive MG on the Halifax, an 18-acre luxury, waterfront condo community with a new clubhouse and private marina on the Halifax River in the city of Holly Hill next to Daytona Beach, Fla. With access to the Atlantic through nearby Ponce Inlet to the south, MG is a launching point for residents and guests to coastal Florida’s most popular outdoor recreational activities.
George Burgess is leading research teams focused on the distribution and movements of sawfish. He is the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and curates the International Shark Attack File and the International National Sawfish Encounter Database. For more about the programs, or to report a sawfish sighting, go to http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/sawfish/
In October 2010, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Hell’s Bay Boatworks with the support of Benedict Advertising donated a Hell’s Bay boat, motor and trailer valued at more than $50,000 to help Burgess’ efforts to track sawfish. Over the years, teams have studied the waterways of Florida that range from Southwest Florida to the Indian River Lagoon system that stretches from Volusia County to Jupiter.
“In science, nothing comes free. To do the field work and to be able to do what we need to do to get the answers we’re asking with regards to endangered species like the sawfish and other sharks and rays, it takes resources,” Burgess says. “Fundraising events like these go a long way in sending the message that we all play a role in protecting our coastal waters and the creatures that inhabit them. We greatly appreciate the team of supporters making this happen.”
Tickets begin at $200 for individuals with opportunities for exclusive corporate packages. Guests will enjoy silent and live auctions, original art exhibits by Guy Harvey and local artist Tom Ackley, and dinner by Chuck Jaloski, executive chef of Stonewood Grill. Master of ceremonies is Brady Ackerman, host of the Gator Sports Network and a former University of Florida SEC Champion running back.
For updates, go to the website at www.savethesawfish.com, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/savethesawfish or connect with us on Twitter @savethesawfish.